Creating A Nogai Floral Design Using Sticky Fabri-Solvy

Creating A Nogai Floral Design Using Sticky Fabri-Solvy

As I told you in my last post about our trip to New York City, I visited the Met Museum’s Watson library. I am doing research on ancient felt making patterns in and around Central Asia.

This is one of the books that I found in the library and it had loads of illustrations with different patterns. But, the book was written in Russian. I went ahead and scanned the illustrations and hoped that I would be able to get it translated when I got home. It took me a few days to realize that I knew someone who speaks Russian, Galina! She is a member of The Felting and Fiber Studio Forum and will be teaching another Fantasy Fish online class soon. Galina kindly translated for me and also told me a little bit about the book. The book is about the Nogais, a Turkic ethnic group, who now live in the North Caucasus region. This is “next door” to Central Asia and since these were nomadic people, I think I will include their patterns in my research. The book was written by Fatima Kanokova and her doctoral thesis had a theme of “Decorative Art of the Nogais.” Thanks so much Galina for your help!

I took one of the floral patterns from the book and enlarged it. I then painted it on paper in the colors I was going to use. The colors were limited to what size and color of prefelt I had available. I used a very lightweight commercial prefelt and decided I was going to need at least two layers and then a backing piece of prefelt. I did try and do a little dry felting of the two pieces of prefelt so they would stick together during cutting. This wasn’t very successful. I would highly recommend using a thicker piece of prefelt to begin with and the cutting process would have worked better. Next, I needed to decide how I would transfer the design.

I was thinking of using the freezer paper method like Lyn used with her pigeon/rubber ducky piece but then suddenly remembered that I had some Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy that I had bought for free motion machine embroidery. I did not like using it with the sewing machine  or hand sewing because it gummed the needle up so much. But I hoped it would work with the prefelt.

The Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy has a paper backing on a sticky, water soluble fabric type stabilizer. So I traced the design and cut it out with a craft knife. I cut very carefully, so that I could use both portions of the design for the negative and positive shapes.

Here it is after cutting and you can see the negative and positive shapes that resulted.

Next was to peel the paper backing off and position the pieces on the various colors of prefelt.

Here is the prefelt with the cut shapes of Sticky Fabri-Solvy stuck in place. Now on to cutting them out. I tried cutting them with the craft knife but the two layers of prefelt kept shifting around. So I used a small, sharp scissors to cut out the shapes. Again, I was very careful so that I could use both the positive and negative shapes in the two different colors.

Here are the shapes after cutting. If you look closely, you can see the cutting wasn’t perfect. Again, this would have been easier with one piece of thicker prefelt.

Now to put the pieces together in an inlaid fashion. I used a piece of white prefelt behind the red background. If I had been thinking about it, I should have used a piece of red prefelt. Then you wouldn’t be able to see any movement of the cut shapes if it occurred during felting. But I didn’t have any white prefelt for the brown background piece. I decided to cut the edges of the brown piece and add a red background.

Here’s the brown piece after cutting and adding the red background. I didn’t inlay the brown into the red background, I just laid it on top.

On to felting everything. I covered both sides with a nylon curtain and wet the pieces down. Hopefully, you can see that the Sticky Fabri-Solvy mainly stuck on to the nylon curtain and then peeled off. I washed the remainder of the stickiness out of the nylon curtain and preceded with felting as I normally do. The little bits that were still stuck on the red prefelt dissolved. I’m sure the whole thing would have dissolved without pulling it off with the nylon curtain. But sometimes this type of water soluble fabric leaves a stiff residue and I didn’t want that to happen. So I was happy with it all peeling off easily. I had tried to peel if off before I wet it down but it would have damaged the prefelt. Also, I found that with the stabilizer in place, the pieces fit together easily and held their shape better than the other pieces that didn’t have any stabilizer. It didn’t really matter with the end result anyways.

And here you can see the two pieces after felting. The one on the right had a bit of ruffling edges since the prefelt in the center was thicker than the outer edge. But that didn’t matter because I was planning on trimming the pieces after felting.

Here are the two pieces after trimming. This method worked great and now I have a useful purpose for the roll of Sulky Sticky Fabri-Solvy that I have.



19 thoughts on “Creating A Nogai Floral Design Using Sticky Fabri-Solvy

  1. Your cutting skills with the craft knife are impressive! It would seem that with such an intricate design the Sulky may have been preferable to the freezer paper?

    The ‘jigsaw’ insertion of the cut-outs kept the edges of the design really sharp – both pieces look great!

    How do you think the ancients would have made these designs in felt?

    1. Thanks! I do think the Sulky works better than freezer paper as it holds well and doesn’t shift around at all. I was happy with the sharpness of the design.

      The ‘ancient’ felt makers definitely had skills and no ‘fancy’ pattern making supplies. I have read that they cut out prefelt just as I did here or they used wet wool like Ildi’s method. But the intricacies of their designs are amazing.

  2. I think that this is a great way of getting your designs crisp and clean Ruth.
    I have some of the older version of the sticky solvy, the sort without the paper backing – it must have been before anyone thought of printing on it. I have used it for making fabric using scraps of fabric and yarn, but now I have another use for it. Thanks.
    Good luck with the research, I’m looking forward to some more designs from it.

    1. The Sulky definitely helped with the pattern making. This is one of the more simple designs so we will see how I do as the intricacy increases. Glad I gave you another use for your supplies 😁

  3. I wish I could get my felting to be that geometrically precise! Well done ^_^

    As for the paper gumming up the needle, there are special-coated needles you can purchase which (allegedly) do not have that issue.

    Thanks for sharing the Nogai with us!

    1. Thanks Leonor, I rarely do precise or geometric but this turned out better than I could hope!

      I will have to check out the coated needle idea. I have a pair of scissors that are coated and aren’t supposed to gum up when cutting sticky stuff. They still have to be cleaned on a regular basis. But it would be great to be able to use this product for one of it’s intended uses.

  4. Would you be willing to share your research? I am very interested in traditional felting designs from Central Asia. Information (especially pictures) seems to be sparse.

  5. This looks great Ruth – a very clever way to aid precision!

    Is this Shyrdak felting (the name just came to mind as I was reading your piece).

    1. Thanks Helene, Shyrdak rugs are made by the Kyrgyz. These designs are for the kiyyz rugs made by the Nogai. But I think many of these designs were spread all over Central Asia due to the nomadic character of all of these tribes.

  6. I’m familiar with that book and have been trying to find an affordable copy for several years. Maybe I will come across a copy in some used book store someday! Thanks for the recommendation about the Watson library. I may be in NYC this summer and, if so, will be sure to visit. Do they allow you to take photos?

    1. Let me know if you find the book, wouldn’t that be a great find? They have a copy at the Watson library. Sign up for a library card in advance, search for the books you want and reserve them about one week in advance. All the instructions are online. They have specialized scanners that you can use for free. Take a data stick so you can download the resultant PDF files. Or you can email the files to yourself. I only had a couple of hours at the library and wished I could stay all day.

  7. Great pieces Ruth and like the others I am very impressed with your knife and scissor work. I will have to get some of that sticky solvey.
    The videos I have seen from Turkey they pieces were well felted before cutting and then they were sown on to fairly well felted carpets and felted again. I have also seen the design cut from finished felt and sewn onto finished felt.

    1. Thanks Ann, the sticky fabric solvy was useful after all, I have had it for a couple of years. I do think that a lot of applique/stitching techniques were used. For large rugs, I would think stitching was very necessary.

  8. Your work looks so impressive Ruth. I love the sharp lines, or definition that you achieved between the two colour ways. Beautiful.

  9. Wow – neat, crisp work Ruth….a great result. Looking forward to seeing your skills develop as your research progresses.

    Eons ago I purchased (& split with a friend) a roll of ‘fabric’ from the Knitting & Stitching show. Years later I thought I would try it (having totally forgotten what it was, due to no label). I ironed it to some fabric, which I then painted. I was in a workshop at the time….we were all fascinated as the fabric started to wrinkle up on it’s own, totally useless for the class application! By the time I got home the back of the fabric was a slimy sticky mess 😧 🤪 I have since labelled said roll!! You have now given me a new use for it….Thanx 🤪

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